34. Leagrave Marsh improvements
Themes: Community engagement and participation; Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management; Improving water quality and water quantity
- Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
- Increase public access to and involvement in the river
- Promote the river as a community and educational resource
- Reduce flood risk
- Improve existing wildlife corridors
- Increase the amount and quality of habitat
- Reduce pollution through physical improvements around the river
- Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements
Groundwork East, Environment Agency and Luton Borough Council have been working on the feasibility of options for river and habitat restoration work at Leagrave Common Marsh.
The elements that were considered were the notching or removal of the weir to allow for fish passage, morphological improvements to the river to create a more natural feature and wetland creation adjacent to the river. The driver for the work was the Water Framework Directive and the aim to bring the Upper Lea to good ecological status.
During 2018/19 survey work was undertaken to understand the current condition of the river through the site. This included a levels survey, monitoring of flow, sediment testing for pollutants, fish survey and a wider habitat survey.
The aim was for the feasibility study to identify a favoured option to remove the block to fish passage whilst improving adjacent habitats and specifically improving the water levels within the marsh. The chosen approach was then to be taken to the local community for discussion and explanation before further work was taken. Unfortunately, the study showed that as yet there is insufficient information available to allow a favoured option to be identified. This is for two reasons: the hydrology of the area is very complicated and needs more study and because we do not yet know the effect of the planned local reduction in water abstraction which will take place by the end of 2024. Because of this the work was stopped. Therefore, the study stopped and over the next few years additional monitoring of water level will take place with the project re-evaluated at a later stage.
A community engagement event is planned for summer 2020 to explain the work to date.